KEENEY’S KORNER: Fireworks this week with Broncos vs. Minnesota

Mike Keeney

The NFL takes center stage this weekend with the featured game pitting the Denver Broncos against the undefeated Minnesota Vikings. There are a number of other intriguing match ups as well across the land, but before we take a look at what’s on tap this weekend, let’s review last week’s results. A 9-3 week brought the season record to a very respectable 43-17 (71 percent and rising). Now, on to the games.

Eisenhower vs. Nimitz: Fans of the running game will love this one. Both teams have strong rushing attacks, so don’t expect the ball to be put in the air too often when these two 21-5A rivals meet in Thorne Stadium. The Eagles get the edge due to their defense. My pick, Eisenhower 33, Nimitz 18
Aldine vs. Stratford: Aldine picked up a big win over Memorial two weeks ago on the road as they set their sites on their Week 10 showdown against Eisenhower. Expect Bill Smith’s team to be focused for this one. They don’t want to stub their toes along the way and they know Stratford can present problems, but not this week. My pick, Aldine 31, Stratford 14
MacArthur vs. Northbrook: The Generals exploded for 45 points two weeks ago in their route of Spring Woods. Look for more of the same this week against an out manned Northbrook team (Northbrook was outscored 126-0 in their first two district games). This one could get ugly. My pick, MacArthur 42, Northbrook 0
Now let’s take a look at what the college schedule has to offer this weekend.
Texas A&M at Nebraska: It looks like it’s going to be a long year for the Aggie faithful. The Aggies are young and inexperienced, which is not a good combination, especially considering that they play in one of the toughest conferences in the country. A&M was blasted 59-28 by Texas Tech two weeks ago. Tech exposed the Aggie pass defense and this weekend, look for the Cornhuskers to do the same to its run defense. Nebraska is enjoying a bounce back season thanks to its defense and the steady play of quarterback Jamal Lord. Look for Lord to have a big day as the Aggies’ trip to Lincoln is anything but pleasant. My pick, Nebraska 34, Texas A&M 13
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State: Is the Tech offense fun to watch or what? They convinced me that they are for real (I may be biased being a Tech grad) with their 31-point win over A&M two weeks ago before a wild throng in Lubbock. Quarterback B.J. Symons may have a stronger arm than his predecessor Kliff Kingsbury, which makes this offense more potent because it has now become a vertical passing game. With that being said, Tech faces a stiff test this Saturday in Stillwater against the Cowboys. Tech needs to get off to a good start and keep the turnovers down. OSU has a balanced offense and while Tech can score with the best of them, their defense is suspect. Look for plenty of points in this one as Symons continues to amaze. My pick, Texas Tech 45, Oklahoma State 41
Iowa at Ohio State: After a one-game road trip, the Buckeyes return to the comfy confines of Ohio Stadium to take on an Iowa team that is coming off a huge upset of Michigan two weeks ago. Look for a tough, tight battle dominated by the defenses in this one. Ohio State does just enough to win, but that could catch up with them now that they are playing better teams in the Big 10. But the bottom line is, Ohio State is winning and that’s all that matters when a team is defending a national title. Look for the Ohio State defense to be the difference maker in this one against a young Iowa quarterback. My pick, Ohio State 23, Iowa 17
USC at Notre Dame: Two traditional rivals meet in South Bend but these two eams are heading in opposite directions. USC looks solid once again while the Irish are struggling this year. The offense is pathetic (is this the slowest backfield in Division I?) and the defense gives up way too many big plays. Things won’t get any easier this Saturday when the high-scoring Trojans come calling. A year ago, USC manhandled ND en route to a 44-13 victory. Things could get just as ugly this weekend if the Irish aren’t focused on the task at hand. I’d like to say the luck of the Irish will win out this weekend, but I’ve got to be realistic and admit that Tyrone Willingham has a lot of work to do in South Bend to get this program back on top. My pick, USC 31, Notre Dame 23
Now let’s see what the NFL has to offer this weekend.
— NFL —
New York Jets at Houston: A wounded Jets team pays a visit to Reliant Stadium this weekend. The Texans should win this one. They are playing much better this year on offense. The addition of wide receiver Andre Johnson has been a huge shot in the arm and the offensive line has improved immensely. Quarterback David Carr now has the time to locate receivers down field and he should have a strong game this Sunday against a weak Jet defense. Look for the Texans to put up big offensive numbers while the defense shuts down Vinnie and the Jets. My pick, Houston 32, New York 14
Tennessee at Carolina: In case you haven’t noticed, the Carolina Panthers are the real deal. They have a solid defense, a strong running game, a quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes and a head coach who isn’t afraid to take a chance now and then. That’s a potent mix in today’s NFL. The Titans will have their work cut out for them as they visit their southern neighbors this weekend. This will be a good test for the Panthers. They will be facing one of the game’s best quarterbacks in Steve McNair. McNair does what it takes to give his team a chance to win, although his late interception two weeks ago against New England was a game killer. Look for Carolina to bring plenty of heat and to shut down the non-existent Titans running attack. My pick, Carolina 23, Tennessee 18
Green Bay at St. Louis: A big game for both teams due to the fact that both have two losses. The loser of this one may look back at the end of the season and realize this is the game that cost them a playoff spot. The Rams are a better team with Marc Bulger at quarterback. The offense seems to click better with him under center. There’s no quarterback controversy in Green Bay. It’s Brett Favre’s job until he decides to retire. No. 4 has been playing better the last couple of weeks, but he does not fare well on turf. Look for the Rams wide receivers to exploit a suspect Green Bay secondary. This should be a high-scoring game that should go down to the final possession. My pick, St. Louis 34, Green Bay 31
Dallas at Detroit: Last year’s Dallas team would lose this game (which they did), but this bunch has a different attitude thanks to head coach Bill Parcells. Look for the Cowboys to turn to the running game to control this game while the defense turns to the blitz to pressure second-year quarterback Joey Harrington. The one thing the Lions will have in their favor is that Dallas will be coming off an emotional and physical game against Philadelphia, but Parcells will have them focused because he knows wins are important at this point of the season for a team that has not enjoyed much success the last three years. My pick, Dallas 20, Detroit 17
Denver at Minnesota: The game of the week in the NFL pits the undefeated Vikings against a Denver team that owns one loss, thanks to former Nimitz High standout Dante Hall and his 93-yard punt return for a touchdown two weeks ago. This should be a high-scoring affair as both offenses have a myriad of weapons. Denver quarterback Jake Plummer has found new life in Denver. It helps that he has a load of offensive weapons on which to call and a real running game led by Clinton Portis. Minnesota also has a potent offense, but the improvement this team has made on defense has been the difference maker thus far in the season. That unit will receive a stern test from Denver this Sunday. Look for plenty of points to be put up, but it says here the difference maker will be Portis. My pick, Denver 34, Minnesota 30